Grip for the rider
Racetrack riding is an athletic endeavor. We crawl all over our machines as we
work our way into, through and out of the corners, doing a very physical task with little but gravity keeping us attached to our bikes. HT Moto Traction, a product originally created for the personal watercraft industry, is designed to help a rider retain his perch while performing at speed. It's been showing up on AMA bikes all over the paddock. In addition, you'll find that many of the top stunt riders are wrapping almost their entire motorcycles with the stuff. We initially heard about this product at Speed Academy, since school owner and top AMA pro Jason DiSalvo swears by it. We had to know more, so we contacted Corey at HT Moto for the lowdown.
Because it will adversely affect the front suspension, you want to avoid holding onto your motorcycle's clip-ons too tightly or allowing your body weight to ride on your hands. This leaves the seat, tank and pegs for hanging on. HT Moto offers improved grip for two of those three contact areas with its pre-cut tank and superbike seat pads. This product is created from closed cell foam, backed with a 3M pressure sensitive adhesive. The foam has a diamond pattern cut into it, which acts very much like the tread on a tire. The grooves allow the material to distort slightly as you apply lateral force against the pad while hanging off, which lets it get a serious grip on your suit. Corey explained to us that the harder you press into the HT Moto foam, the more it grips. As you relieve pressure against the material, it releases you progressively.
Traction tank kits come ready-cut to fit most popular sportbikes. There are many solid colors, two-tones and even prints available to choose from. Your machine would need to be equipped with a superbike-style tail to use a Traction seat pad, however if you're still using the stock seat, HT Moto also manufactures made-to-order custom covers. While these upholstery kits don't feature the Traction foam, they're a more comfortable choice for street duty and are also very pretty!
Because most competing products are made of textured rubber and then coated with adhesive, applying them to your fuel tank can be a tedious process of trying to remove all the trapped air from beneath them. HT Moto Traction is essentially foam sheet, so it is far easier to install. Simply clean the tank with a wax and grease remover, peel off a bit of the Traction's protective backing, position, expose the rest of the adhesive and smooth the pad into place. Corey advised us that once it's been applied, going over the foam with a small roller will provide the best results.
Traction can be cleaned with mild soap such as dish washing liquid or laundry detergent, helped along with a soft brush. Spilled gasoline will stain the foam but not destroy it.
If you decide to remove the material at a later date, simply peel it off. Your paint will not be affected by the adhesive. As always, this job would be made easier with a bit of help from a hair drier or heat gun. (We'd suggest that you take care not to heat the surface of your motorcycle's gas tank to the point where it self-ignites and blows you to Kingdom Come...) After the pads are removed, any leftover adhesive residue can be cleaned off the paint with a wax and grease remover or other paint-safe cleaner.
Once HT Moto Traction is applied to your machine, you can expect it to last about three seasons, depending upon climate. This is assuming that your bike sees street duty. Most track bikes are stored indoors and usually get parked under a canopy at the track, which would greatly increase the product's lifespan. Since it was designed for watercraft, HT Moto Traction works as well wet as it does dry, which is a major advantage over other products. Another asset is that Traction doesn't tear up what touches it. The product won't damage leathers or regular clothing like friction tape can and doesn't have hard, pointy edges that would cause the rider discomfort if he chooses to wear jeans for a street ride.
So this is all sounding pretty darn good, right? The big question is, of course, "How much does this wonderful stuff cost?" We about dropped the phone when Corey told us, "Well, we just lowered the price. Depending on model, a pre-cut tank kit generally runs between $20 and $35." Holy SPIT! That's really inexpensive! Needless to say, we immediately ordered up enough to do several bikes, plus a few hunks of extra material, just so we could have some in stock. How often do you get to splurge on something really cool, buy a bunch more than you need just to have it as spare and still get change back from a hundred bucks?
When our box of HT Moto Traction arrived, we busted straight for the shop to get some on a bike! The pre-cut pads for our 08 GSXR 1000 fit the tank's shape very well and of course, we had to get creative and make an oversized "Buckle Buster" to complement them. This stuff is really fun to work with and looks totally high tech cool. Giving it the old “garage hangoff drill” in work pants, the product seems to perform as advertized. We'll be putting it to the test at DiSalvo Speed Academy on March 31/ April 1, so we'll update this article after we've used Traction at the track!